The unsung heroes of 911

Sometimes the ones who donít seek recognition are the ones who deserve it most. I can think of no more fitting example of this than Chenango Countyís public safety dispatchers.

They are the unsung heroes of emergency services. The voice on the other end of the phone when we call for help, not the ones who ride to the rescue with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Their role may be behind the scenes, but it is no less crucial to public safety.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, these dedicated public servants serve as the link between people in their hour of need and the emergency responders who can help.

No matter what the emergency, they are trained to assess the situation and dispatch the appropriate resources. And they must do so while staying calm, cool and collected with a caller on the phone who is anything but.

Iím not exactly the calm, cool and collected type. In fact, I have a bit of a reputation as a ďcrier.Ē (Much to my esteemed editorís chagrin, I might add.) It is one of the reasons I am so in awe of what these dispatchers do every day. Because I honestly donít know if I could do what they do.

This was reinforced last week, when I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Chenango County Communications Center.

I was preparing to write for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which our fair county is observing this year for the first time. I volunteered for the assignment, even though it was outside the scope of my beat. Not to step on Tylerís toes. (Although thatís always fun.) No, I had a personal reason for wanting to cover the story.

Not too many months ago, my family found itself in an emergency situation. I wonít go into any details, but I will say the professionalism and efficiency with which our 9-1-1 call was handled helped make an incredibly stressful and scary time that much easier. The experience gave me a new appreciation for the work these men and women do, day in and day out. My family and I are eternally grateful.

I expressed this sentiment in a thank you note I sent to Dispatcher Daron Schultes, who handled the call. I got to thank him personally last week.

Life is full of the unexpected. You never know when an emergency situation will arise. But I take great comfort in knowing that, if I find myself in need of help, people like Daron Schultes are there to answer my call.

Thank you to Daron and all of his colleagues at the Chenango County Communications Center for the public service they provide, and the dedication, professionalism, commitment and compassion they bring to the job every day.

And, Daron, on behalf of my family, thank you once again from the bottom of our hearts.

Happy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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